Most autistic adults have developed a long-term negative relationship with their parents. Thus, they refuse parental or professional intervention to better their lives. A buddy befriender gets around this issue by reaching the autistic client as an autistic peer.
Buddy befrienders use their lived experience to provide a positive influence and informal mentoring. Befriending is done as part of enjoyable leisure activities and social chats rather than in a formal or structured setting and can help with:
1) Developing self-reliance with a resilient and proactive attitude to challenges in life
2) Taking multiple and deeper perspectives of life situations and human behaviours
3) Thinking and communicating clearly to promote mutual understanding and self-advocacy
4) Understanding non-autistic people including constructive ways to collaborate with them
5) Developing inner clarity to live a purpose-driven life
A buddy befriender is not a professional mental health worker. Autistics with mental health issues are advised to seek professional help.
A buddy befriender is not a tuition teacher. Activities should be freely chosen and enjoyable to the client; any learning is an incidental bonus. Extrinsic pressure is counterproductive to building rapport.
A buddy befriender is not a babysitter. It is only as a neutral party that I can mediate between the autistics and their family members to come up with win-win solutions.
A buddy befriender is not an expert. I am open to clients teaching me new skills which will boost their self-esteem. I only consider myself an expert in the life experience and wisdom of being autistic.
As the buddy befriender can only proceed at the pace dictated by the autistic client, it may take a long time before the benefits are apparent. The service can be arranged as ad-hoc companionship during selected activities or as constant companionship via online messaging. Examples include accompanying autistics to:
1) Favorite places and activities as a friend
2) Family outings as a photographer
3) Complete chores as a teammate
4) Taking courses/workshops as a helpful classmate
5) Practicing for a speech/competition as a supporter
Autistics who qualify for buddy befriending:
1) do not have any intellectual disability
2) do not have severe behavioural or mental health issues
3) are at least 16 years of age
4) are open to making friends and going out
5) can communicate either in English or Mandarin
While sponsors may choose to be silent about engaging me for this service. I expect the clients to find out on their own eventually. To sidestep this issue, consider engaging me officially for other goal-driven services as soon as the client is ready.
On-site buddy befriending (i.e. where I must travel) costs SGD$60 per hour for a minimum of 2 hours.
Remote buddy befriending (i.e. where I can work from home) costs SGD$40 per hour.
The initial session is a trial; it will be chargeable only if the sponsor and client choose to continue with the next session.